It has been 26 years this week since plain old Alex Ferguson was appointed as Manchester United manager and you may have noticed that he has won one or two things in the interim.
The most decorated boss in the game celebrates yet another milestone at Old Trafford and we would be here all night if we were to reel off all of the incredible things he has done (and I’m not talking about paying £7 million for Bebe) but needless to say, the 12 Premier League titles and two European Cups that characterise his stint as United boss are the highlights of a spell that, even a quarter of a century on, shows no sign of ending.
I don’t need to eulogise any further as you all know the script (and mainly because I don’t want to) but I think that this season more than ever has epitomised that innate winning mentality that defines Ferguson and runs through his very core.
As we start November, Manchester United are top of the Premier League table and have taken nine points from their three Champions League group games, but this seems to be out of step with how the team has actually performed.
Their ability to score goals has never been in question and this season, United have scored them in abundance. With Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to choose from, Ferguson has as fine an attacking quartet as he has boasted for some time and a return of 19 goals in the last six games alone proves that.
But those goals have been scored against the backdrop of a defensive shambles and that is not too strong a word. Most unlike Ferguson’s sides, they have kept just three clean sheets all season and have conceded 22 goals in 15 games, meaning they have had to score so many goals just to ensure matches were won.
Of course, the fact that United always find a way to do that is testament to the unrelenting mentality that Ferguson instils in whatever group of players he has under him and I think it will continue to serve them well when the Red Devils travel to Portugal to face Braga in their fourth Group H match in the Champions League.
United are favourites at 21/20, with Braga a 5/2 shot and the draw at 12/5, and any time that Manchester United are odds-against you have to be interested – and that includes this one.
For all their defensive troubles, United have won 12, drawn one (after 90 minutes) and lost two of their 15 games this season and they can grab another win in Portugal. Punters registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on United to beat Braga would return £41 if successful.
Braga gave Ferguson a scare when they stormed into a 2-0 lead in the first match at Old Trafford two weeks ago, but I still think that was down to the defensive deficiencies of the home side rather than any Braga brilliance and the way that the Red Devils roared back to win 3-2 means I will be on them to outscore the home side in this one too.
José Peseiro’s side have won just two of their last five matches at Estadio AXA and lost their previous Champions League home match 2-0 to Cluj. We know how basic Cluj are and if the Romanians can go to Braga and win then United most certainly can and I want to be on that odds-against price.
A draw or better would see United progress with two games to spare and Ferguson will want qualification put to bed as soon as possible so he can concentrate on domestic matters until next year. And even with their defensive issues, United have goals in abundance in them and can claim a win at 21/20.